How I Organize My Studio

My Maine studio is a kind of studio, within a studio, within a studio, within a studio:

illustration of how I organize my studio

The Maine mills that hold my solo-biennial installations are my studio for this work, just as much as my home studio is where I generate my drawings. I devise the ideas for my installations in my home, but my works are ultimately completed in these mills.

1 of 9 works being installed MATTER
Art-making at Robinson Mill (MATTER, 2012)

Our home, which I share with my husband and our two dogs, is also my studio in that I need space to put the massive amounts of materials used to make my installations. As part of tax preparation, I know that my materials take up 25% of our total square footage. Before we found our home (in Lyman, Maine), just after my 4th solo biennial SOUND, my materials at times took up ~70% of the space in our apartment and shed, plus space outside under tarps.

some materials in basement
Some materials stored in our Lyman basement

I use parts of our house for pre-production when certain repetitive tasks can’t be done in the room designated as my studio (getting as much done as possible per biennial before move-into-the-mill day). Because of the amount materials, I work where I can (myself and periodic art assistants) in our kitchen, bathroom, basement, living room, bedroom, and garage.

My studio within our home is 1 of 2 upstairs bedrooms, my studio to the left, my husband’s office to the right. We sometimes miss our respective previous jobs’ communities (water-cooler and over-the-cubicle talk with coworkers), so we take spontaneous breaks to peek into each other’s rooms to say “hello,” to eat together, to tell each other something cool that just happened, to vent, to problem solve. And, this is an office romance.

my studio at home
my studio in our home

I keep my studio as minimal as possible, as I work best in this kind of environment. This is also why I try to keep our house un-knick-knacky. My studio walls eventually fill with the drawings I do to support my biennials. The tables are eventually used for pre-production processes I can manage in this smaller, cleanest-room-in-our-house space.

To share my work process through this blog (on the laptop I purchased a while back for artist talks and teaching), I have an extra chair in my studio (my laptop and chair in the background of the picture above). Having my laptop at-the-ready allows me to quickly shift gears from conceptualizing or grant writing or budgeting, etc., to blogging spontaneous thoughts about my work. So far, I have managed this task without taking time from my active art-making.

my studio desktop
my desktop in my studio

My desktop computer is my studio within my home studio (my laptop, my studio away from home). I would say ~80% of my making before I start installing, happens on my computer, even when actively generating drawings. During the months before I move into the mill, when my pre-production intensifies, I am still on my computer about half the work day.

>>>Click here for a brief video about how I organize my desktop.<<<

Over the past 15 years, I have recycled or tried to sell materials from previous biennials to make space needed for my next biennials’ materials. In 2017, after I have completed all 9 exhibits (81 installations), I will need to make room in my studio for the large-scale singular works I intend to do for museums and other art institution exhibits. Somehow the pain of purging these past-work materials has always been balanced by the joy of adding new elements for new ideas. I hope it will work the same way in 2017.

How do you organize your studio? Do you keep it messy? Neat? Does each thing/process have its own place in your work space? Please comment on any or all.